Yesterday, the Cubs evened-up their Spring Training record with a win against the Rangers on the strength of the regulars – Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras went back-to-back and Javy Baez made two stellar defensive plays.
But today, Joe Maddon is going back to the back-up lineup, with the exception of Ian Happ, Tommy La Stella, and Kyle Schwarber, who bat one, two, and three later this afternoon.
Which means, yes, for the second time in just three games Happ is getting a look at the top of the order, which might look only like an opportunity to get him his at-bats and get him out early (i.e. typical Spring Training stuff for regulars), if Maddon hadn’t explicitly mentioned that he was getting extended consideration for the leadoff role this summer.
And although I still don’t think the Cubs will have a sure-fire, everyday, no-doubt leadoff man for the couple months of the season (at least), I’m increasingly warming up to the idea that Happ and Albert Almora share the responsibility. They won’t be in a strict platoon in center field (and Happ could mix in elsewhere, too), but by letting those two share the job, the rest of the order can remain fixed behind them – which is something, instinctually, we know players prefer.
Elsewhere, Jen-H0 Tseng is taking the mound today, following Eddie Butler (Saturday) and Michael Roth (Friday) in the seventh(ish) starter race. Unlike Butler or Roth, though, Tseng is still much more of a true prospect. If you recall, he began 2017 out in Double-A (2.99 ERA, 3.28 FIP) before being promoted to Triple-A (1.80 ERA, 4.25 FIP), being named the organization’s pitcher of the year, and eventually getting a taste of the Major Leagues. If tragedy struck the Cubs rotation and one of these guys was going to take a step forward, you’d probably prefer it’d be Tseng given his age (23) and remaining upside.
Today’s game is not being televised by the Cubs, but the Giants are broadcasting it, which means you can watch on MLB.tv. You can also catch the Cubs’ radio broadcast on MLB.com.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Ian Happ, CF
- Tommy La Stella, 2B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Chris Gimenez, C
- Efren Navarro, 1B
- David Bote, 3B
- Chesny Young, DH
- Mark Zagunis, RF
- Mike Freeman, SS